SLO mulls new development project with assisted living, shopping center

Posted at 11:44 PM, Jun 13, 2018

A new project that proposes a shopping center and assisted living facility in San Luis Obispo may need some tweaks before it will be green lit.

At a SLO Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, the board reviewed the conceptual outline of the two projects located in the vacant 10-acre land and provided input to developers.

The retail shopping center would be 49,000 square feet, spearheaded by NKT Development. The assisted living facility of 133,655 square feet would include, in the early drafts, 111 assisted living suites and 28 memory care studio units.

Westmont Development is leading the assisted living project. The average tenant of Westmont Living would be 84 years old. There were questions Wednesday as to whether the facility is the right fit for the area.

"Who can argue against senior care living?" said commissioner Hemalata Dandekar. "Unfortunately, I think this site was projected to be an energized node" to what currently occupies the area, Dandekar said, which would sit across the streets from MINDBODY and the Marigold Shopping Center.

"This seems like a missed opportunity" to address necessary housing, remarked commissioner Nicholas Osterbur.

"I don’t see the integration between the two," said commissioner Mike Wulkan.

All on the commission agreed there is a need for affordable senior housing. Westmont Living would include eating facilities, a movie theater, and activities, but the proposal does not match the zoning designation.

"I think that we’ve somewhat ignored the fact that we have a very large aging population," said C.M. Florence, a principal and planner at Oasis Associates. "I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it’s very expensive to live here. So people are older. People are moving into the area because it’s so beautiful. But we’re also aging."

"We’ve been working on this since 2009 through the update of the land use and circulation update. So I hope they’re not expecting this particular parcel is going to be the be-all, do-all for the community because it can’t do that. But there are a lot of good things that it can do," Florence added.

Another issue is the large traffic volume on both Broad Street and Tank Farm Road. Tens of thousands of vehicles that travel both roads each day.

The Planning Commission did not decide on the project’s fate during the meeting but rather directed staff to bring the issue back with more focus on a possible independent living component and addressing issues raised by the commission.